Psychedelic Brittanica

Today’s Nature has an interesting review of a new book, called Albion Dreaming, on the history of LSD in the UK. The book also has a slightly ramshackle but wonderfully engrossing website which is full of fascinating information on LSD.

The site has a great collection of quotes by famous Britons where they describe their experiences with LSD. One of the most eloquent is by the actor, writer and general all round good chap, Stephen Fry, where he writes in his autobiography:

I don’t know if you have ever taken LSD, but when you do so the doors of perception, as Aldous Huxley, Jim Morrison and their adherents ceaselessly remind us, swing open wide. That is actually the sort of phrase, unless you are William Blake that only makes sense when there is some LSD swimming about inside you. In the cold light of the cup of coffee and banana sandwich that are beside me now it appears to be nonsense, but I expect you know what it is taken to mean.

LSD reveals the whatness of things, their quiddity, their essence. The wateriness of water is suddenly revealed to you, the carpetness of carpets, the woodness of wood, the yellowness of yellow, the fingernailness of fingernails, the allness of all, the nothingness of all, the allness of nothing. For me music gives access to every one of these essences of existence, but at a fraction of the social or financial cost of a drug and without the need to cry ‘Wow!’ all the time, which is one of LSD’s most distressing and least endearing side-effects.

The review notes that Albion Dreaming discusses how the UK played quite a significant role in the LSD revolution of the 1960s.

In fact, at one point, half the world’s LSD was produced in the UK before the production was smashed by Operation Julie. The BBC has a fantastic website about the history of Op Julie that talks to some of the key figures and discusses the legendary trip-impeding police operation.

Link to Nature review of Albion Dreaming.
Link to Albion Dreaming website.
Link to BBC website on Operation Julie.

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